You've met Ivy Manning, here at The Kitchn — we reviewed her wonderful book, The Adaptable Feast, which is full of satisfying meals for vegetarians, omnivores, and everyone else at the table. We love Ivy's cooking and writing, so we were cheering her on this past year while she and her husband remodeled their 1940s bungalow kitchen. Here's a peek at their kitchen, and some thoughts on remodeling a kitchen for a professional.
Ivy lives in a bungalow in Portland, Oregon. Her cooking and writing are closely tied to the local seasons and produce, and she wanted a kitchen that also reflected the colors and moods of the Northwest. She also wanted to open up the kitchen, as it was cramped and dark the way that bungalow kitchens tend to be. But she and her husband also did not want to lose the native charm and details of their old home.
In the end, they tore out the wall between the kitchen and the tiny dining area, and moved the stove so that they could install a more powerful vent hood. They also opted for an electric oven rather than gas, since the gas oven often overheated their small house. They added quartz countertops, and a whole host of improvements in their custom cabinets.
The result is really wonderful! The quiet green and understated tile next to the dark wood cabinets evoke all our own memories of the Pacific Northwest, with its grand trees and natural beauty. But this kitchen is also one that works — the aesthetics support it, but each piece has been carefully chosen for its functionality. It's tremendously inspiring to us.
We particularly admire the decisions that left the countertops completely clear for intense cooking and recipe development, decisions like the microwave drawer under the counters, the well-organized knife drawer, and the expansive cookbook shelves.
Here's a little more about the kitchen in Ivy's own words. And when you're done reading this, go visit Ivy's own website and blog!
Also, all the photos above were taken by Ivy's husband:
• Gregor Torrence
10 Questions for Ivy Manning (and Her Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Order. I am a food writer and recipe developer, so it's really important to me to have a clean, streamlined work space. The smooth countertops devoid of pattern and beveled off white subway tiles (which remind me of white chocolate bars) create a calm space in my crazy-busy cooking life.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My sealed burner DCS 5-burner cooktop (serious BTU's) and my Vent-a-Hood dual "lung" hood above it, it's quiet and it sucks all the curry vapors right out of the kitchen.
3. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen?
A Bosch counter depth side by side refrigerator. The first refrigerator was a total lemon (frozen produce and spoiled food on top shelves), so we splurged on the replacement, and I love it. It's so well lit and beautiful, and no frozen lettuce.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen?
Space. In order to reconfigure our 1947 bungalow kitchen with the original footprint, we had to move the stove against the outside wall where there was a window. Instead of loose the natural light by walling up the window, we put in glass blocks, which lets in a ton of light and looks pretty cool, don't you think?
5. Is there anything you dream of adding to the kitchen?
I would love to have a chest freezer so I could join a meat CSA.
6. How would you describe your cooking style?
If I could apprentice with a grandmother from every culture in the world, I would know much more than any 4-star Michelin chef. I love to wander ethnic grocery stores and cook global cuisines, but I get my veggies from local farmer's markets.
7. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
A chef I worked for taught me that if you stick a paring knife in the thickest part of the fish you are cooking and hold it there for 3 seconds and then touch the dull part of the knife to just below your lip, you'll be able to tell the temperature of the fish. If the knife is cold, the fish is rare, if the knife is hot, the fish is well done.
8. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
We had a kitchen warming party and I made a Nordic smorgasbord with a huge fig-glazed ham, home cured salmon, deviled eggs with salmon roe, pickled herring, cucumber dill salad, new potatoes with lemon thyme, and deep dark rye bread. Oh, and aquavit, lots of aquavit.
9. What cookbook has inspired you the most?
Seductions of Rice, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It's recipes and stories from rice-based cultures, but it's more about what goes on top of rice. I learned the basics of Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese cooking from that book.
10. What are you cooking this week?
Vietnamese chicken pho; apple, blue cheese and walnut pizza; wild mushrooms with baked eggs, green olives, and breadcrumbs; quinoa crackers; and probably pad Thai with Dungeness crab.
• Stovetop: DSC 5-burner 36" drop-in stovetop
• Oven: Electrolux Icon designer series wall oven
• Microwave: Sharp Drawer Microwave KB-6001NS ($750)
• Refrigerator: Bosch Counter Depth Side by Side
• Dishwasher: ASKO Dishwasher
• Sink: Blanco Performa 1 1/2 Bowl Undermount Sink
• Faucet: Kohler Semplice, Pull Down Kitchen Sink Faucet (polished chrome)
• Countertop: Pental Chroma in Mesa Polished
• Floor: Wecork Naturals Series, Porto (Medium Grain)
• Backsplash: Ann Sacks Mayfair Beveled Subway Tile in Alabaster
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
Submit your kitchen here.
(Images: Gregor Torrence)